By Clyde Mooney
The hotels industry has welcomed the announcement of widespread initiatives from the NSW Premier's office in response to the public outcry over the Kings Cross licensed precinct.
Premier Barry O'Farrell and Minister for Hospitality George Souris have issued a raft of new measures based around new technology, improved transport options, and greater police presence and powers.
Police will begin a high-visibility campaign beginning September 28 in time for the long weekend, which will include the use of drug-detection dogs without being required to first obtain a warrant.
Between 1.00am and 5.00am bus services will ferry patrons to Central or Town Hall every eight or 15 minutes (respectively) and taxi services will see additional security at ranks and the trial of pre-paid fares.
Most significantly, the area will see the introduction of a linked ID scanning system in every pub, club, and strip-joint and new laws allowing individuals to be banned from all licensed premises.
"My message to trouble-makers is: when you're out, you're out," Premier O'Farrell states in the release.
"In some cases, offenders will be barred for longer periods because we won't tolerate their behaviour in the Cross."
Other initiatives include the expansion of the area covered by the Kings Cross Liquor Accord to incorporate around 100 extra licensed venues in Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay, an extension on the freeze on new liquor outlets in the expanded precinct until 24 December 2015, and restrictions on licences for small bars.
"We will introduce a new category of 'small bar' liquor licences which will limit venues to 60 patrons or less, and prohibit gaming machines," said Souris.
The Minister for Health also announced an alcohol education campaign targeting binge drinking and the risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption.
The Australian Hotels Association has welcomed the announcements as appropriate, practical steps.
"For the first time, a linked scanning system will record exactly who is in the venue and ensure those doing the wrong thing are kicked out – and just as importantly, will not be allowed in anywhere else," said AHA NSW CEO Paul Nicolaou.
"These are practical measures that directly target those people doing the wrong thing, not the 99.9 per cent of people who come to the Cross for a good time."
These measures announced in 'Operation Rushmore' are in addition to post-midnight conditions placed on Kings Cross venues by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) last month, which include bans on glasses, shots and doubles, stricter controls for CCTV and incident registers, purchase limit of four drinks at a time, and the requirement of two Responsible Service of Alcohol marshals in venues.